Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On hold - From Aaron & Jake

As we left from Alton, IL this morning we called the Coast Guard and found out the river is closed from marker 185 (St. Louis) to marker 109 (Chester, IL)  There isn't anything we can do besides get a ride to where we can get back on the river.  The Coast Guard has come to the decision that the flood waters have made the river unsafe for recreational craft... such as a canoe.  We will respect their decision.  We're staying in St. Louis at a friend's place for the night, as planned.

During our stay in Alton today we got a chance to see the sights and visit an interesting Native American painting.  Our friend Denise, who donated many meals and other equipment for our trip, grew up in Alton and remembers the Piasa Bird well. Piasa means "the bird that devours men" and is a mythical creature derived from the Cahokia region of Illinois.

Half Way to the Gulf

Aaron and Jake traveled 57 miles to mile marker 202 in Alton, Illinois. They decided to rent a slip in the Alton Marina for the night, because the land is so flooded there is nowhere to camp. Sunday night they slept in the canoe tied up to a dock but it was a nerve racking night because of the fast current rushing by them. Monday night’s sleep was better because the canoe was in a protected slip in the marina.
Today they have a short 20 mile paddle to St. Louis where a college friend of Aaron’s will pick them up for a night’s sleep in a bed and a hot shower. They will pass the half way point of their trip (1160 miles) just six miles downriver from where they slept. They will also go through the final two locks of the entire trip when they enter the Chain of Rocks Canal.

Just south of the confluence of the Missouri River and just north of St. Louis is a stretch of river known as the chain of rocks. The chain of rocks is exactly as it sounds, literally a chain of rocks that cross the Mississippi leaving a portion of the river which must be bypassed by the Chain of Rocks Canal.

Chain of rocks

Posted by Aaron’s dad

Monday, June 28, 2010

Free and Easy

"We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft." - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Aaron and Jake tipped their paddles to Tom and Huck as they departed yesterday morning from Hannibal, Missouri.  They paddled 50 miles to mile marker 259 near Hamburg, Illinois. 

The lock and dam system continues to bewilder me.  Yesterday Aaron and Jake passed through lock # 25.  I started looking closer at the locks as I compiled the statistics for the first four weeks.  It turns out lock #25 is actually the 27th lock they have passed through.  In Minneapolis there are two locks that are not numbered; there is a lock # 5 and #5A but there is no lock #23.  Maybe someone could post a comment as to why there is no lock #23 - did it just disappear?

Statistics after 4 weeks

1086 = total miles traveled
38.7 = average miles per day
28 = days of paddling
3 = states passed through (Minnesota, Wisconsin & Iowa)
27 = locks passed through
$4640 = money raised for breast cancer
171 = miles ahead of projected schedule
4,944 = hits on this blog site
Countless = lives they have touched

Posted by Aaron's dad

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sorry for Partying

Even with a late start, over 3 hours of waiting at two locks, a T.V. interview and strong winds Aaron and Jake traveled 44 more miles on Saturday ending in Hannibal, Missouri at mile marker 309. 

Here is the link to the T.V. interview http://www.connecttristates.com/news/story.aspx?id=475336

You can check out many new pictures on Facebook - join the Canoe for the Cure group to access the photos.

Aaron and Jake passed through Quincy, Illinois during the day.  Across the river they also passed West Quincy, Missouri which is the home town of an infamous character.  The following story was written by Aaron prior to departure:

Sorry for Partying

Many of us remember the Great Flood of 1993. The flood was one of the most devastating in United States history, causing around $15 billion in damages. The water created an area of surface water larger and the Great Lakes, and flowed at a rate that would fill Busch Memorial Stadium within 69 seconds.

Unknown to many, it wasn’t just Mother Nature who wreaked havoc on these river towns.

James Robert Scott, of West Quincy, Missouri weakened a levee on the night of July 16 so the floodwater could bust through. That evening, the river flooded an area 14,000 acres, destroying several businesses, and taking out every bridge within 200 miles. In dramatic fashion, a barge was sucked through the levee into a gas station, resulting in a fiery eruption.

After only a few hours of deliberation, Scott was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for intentionally causing a catastrophe.

Scott broke the levee to strand his wife on the other sideof the river so that he was free to “party, fish, and have an affair.”

Posted by Aaron's dad

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Itching to hit 1,000 MilesToday

I spoke to Aaron on the phone this morning.  They were picked up a few miles north of Canton Missouri at mile 353 after canoeing 33 miles through large waves on Friday.  They couldn't get picked up in Canton itself because the flood gates are up and the town is "shut off" from the river due to the flooding. Aaron and Jake's spirits are good but they are both suffering from poison ivy. They enjoyed a hot shower and a great home cooked  meal that included elk steaks, but most of all they enjoyed the good hospitality.

They will be interviewed by a T.V. station today when they get to Quincy, Illinois 25 miles down river from where they slept last night.  The lock traffic is way backed up because of the flooding, they must wait their turn to get into the lock.  Aaron said occasionally a lock master will let them cut in front of some barges.  Lock 20 in Canton has water running on the mainland side of the lock so they are going to try to navigate around the lock on what is usually land.

Forecast for Saturday - Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon with temperatures in the mid 90's

Posted by Aaron's dad

Friday, June 25, 2010


A pleasant day on Thursday allowed Aaron and Jake to paddle 51 miles to mile marker 386 just North of Fort Madison Iowa.  They were able to stop in Keithsburg, Illinois for coffee and Burlington, Iowa for lunch.  Today the guys will meet the good people of Canton Missouri who are going to open their house to them.  Aaron and Jake will get to sleep in a bed, use indoor plumbing, get a nice meal and meet some new friends.

With all of the rain the midwest has gotten over the past few weeks the mighty Mississippi is starting to swell.  Since the Mississippi drains close to 1/2 of our country's water even rain that doesn't fall directly on the river will most likely end up in the river.  This swelling of the river will continue for several days and possibly weeks even if no more rain falls as the tributary creeks and rivers drain to the Mississippi.  In 1927 the river did much more than just swell ...

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

"Throughout the summer and fall of 1926 many places throughout the Midwest were inundated with consistent rainfall. On April 15, 1927, with many rivers already swollen to capacity, a storm lingered across the area that dumped 15 inches of water within 18 hours.

This rain caused the Mississippi River to burst through its’ levees in 145 places, and flooded over 27,000 square miles. The flood filled an area 50 miles wide and 100 miles long with water up to 30 feet deep. 246 people were killed throughout seven states. Of the ten states that were affected, Arkansas was the hardest hit with over 14% of it’s’ territory covered in flood water.

The Great Flood displaced over 700,000 people, including 330,000 African-Americans. Racial hostility had erupted during the six month displacement period. This resulted in tens of thousands of blacks moving to northern cities, and particularly Chicago. The flood was one of the main factors for the Great Migration of African-Americans to the north." (written by Aaron prior to departure)

Posted by Aaron's dad

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Challenging Day

After dodging most of the storms on Tuesday, Aaron and Jake were not so lucky on Wednesday and faced one of their most challenging days of the entire trip.  They awoke at 4:00 am to a flooded camp site.  They got a few miles behind them in the morning when the skies opened up again.   Because of the heavy rains the locks were shut down which means the guys had to portage two of the locks (which is no easy task).  In Muscatine, Iowa Aaron and Jake stopped to get a bite to eat and stretch their legs.  While in Muscatine the tornado alarms went off at 4:00 pm.  Hail and 60+ mile an hour winds blew through the town.  Aaron said it was the worst storm he had ever seen.  They waited out the onslaught in a public bathroom.

Despite all of the obstacles they paddled 42 miles ending at mile marker 437 near New Boston, Illinois at lock # 17.

A friend of a friend of a great aunt has offered a bed and a shower at their house in Canton, Missouri.  Canton is 97 miles from where Aaron and Jake slept last night.  With two hard days of paddling, averaging just over 48 miles each day, they can reach their destination by Friday night.

Forecast for Thursday - Saturday no rain!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

American Paddlers

Aaron and Jake paddled 49 miles to mile marker 479 just past the Quad Cities.  They avoided the major storms that were in the forecast.  During the day they stopped in LeClaire Iowa for a lunch of smoked catfish.  While in LeClaire they stopped by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz's place from "American Pickers" fame as seen on the History Channel.

More rain and storms are forecast for Wednesday.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wet and WILDlife

Aaron and Jake rebounded after a slow day Sunday.  They traveled 46 miles to mile marker 428 just south of Savanna Illinois.  The guys pulled off the river to a tiny island and weathered a storm that had 60 mile an hour winds, another stormy day is forecasted for Tuesday.

In addition to fatigue, sore backs, blisters on hands, etc..., Aaron and Jake have to deal with another obstacle.  All of this rain has helped the mosquito population boom.  If you look closely at the pictures below you can see dragon flies.  The guys were surrounded by hundreds of dragon flies while in Minnesota - why dragon flies?  What you can't see in the picture is the thousands of mosquitoes that the dragon flies were feeding on.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Posted by Aaron's dad

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back in the Groove?

We estimated Aaron and Jake burn over 3,000 calories a day while canoeing and camping.  Both Aaron and Jake did everything possible to put calories back in their bodies during their days off. After 2 1/2 days off and many many large meals the guys got a late start on Sunday due to stomach problems. Go Figure. They covered 18 miles Sunday and hopefully will get back in the groove today.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rest - From Aaron

Hello friends, family, and supporters.  Jake and I are enjoying a couple days of relaxation and catching up with stories and photos.  We thank everyone who has contributed to our cause and is following the blog, as it has given us much motivation during our journey.  My dad has been doing an awesome job updating the blog, and I have vowed to give him more details about each day. 

Our families have met us in Dubuque, IA and we have spent the weekend enjoying the comforts of indoor plumbing, furniture, and time spent with loved ones.  Also, we have been successful in filling the bottomless pits that were previously our stomachs.

Our trip down the Mississippi has been what we expected: A Great Adventure.  We have paddled our way from a meandering marshland, through deeply wooded pine forests, to a giant river, busy with the industrial necessities of the 21st century.  Seemingly overnight we were transformed from a tranquil world of bald eagles, black bears, loons, and dense forests, to the sometimes chaotic river we see today.  Barges, power plants, and locomotives now wake us up at night.  These man-made characteristics of the river are sometimes just as beautiful as their counterparts in the North.  I can assure you the heartland of America is hard at work 24 hours a day 7 days a week to make sure we get our daily doses of coal, wheat, iron, and other vital commodities.

Although we are far from home, I feel as though we've been securely wrapped in the arms the humble Midwest.  We've met wonderful people who have shared with us pizza, beer, breakfasts, and perhaps more importantly, their life experiences and where they come from. 

Our adventure is not without its' physical and mental challenges.  We've had poison ivy since Day 1.  Ticks, mosquitoes, sunburn, blisters and soreness pester us from time to time.  I would be exaggerating my (possibly imagined) tough, outdoorsmen image if I didn't admit that coffee and extra strength Tylenol help us through our last 15 miles on occasion. 

We will be leaving tomorrow morning with a full food bag, dry clothes, clean (well, cleaner) gear, and a renewed pursuit of adventure.  For about 550 miles we can enjoy the comforts of home over our left shoulder, as we paddle the long, storied border of Illinois to the confluence of the Ohio River.  Until then, we'll have more stories and will have made more friends along the way.

Wish us North winds and smooth paddling,


A Clean Break - From Jake

We finally took a much needed break. Although the experience is amazing, the views are awesome, the wildlife is spectacular, and the people are fascinating, it is totally exhausting. Putting in 35-60 miles a day takes a toll on our backs, skin, and bodies altogether. We were lucky enough to sit out the terrible t-storms last night in a nice solid house. The food has been amazing, but seeing the people we love and miss is even better.  We will be getting back on the water tomorrow (sunday) morning. The river is big, the current is stronger, and we are finally getting in really good shape. Aaron has lost 14 pounds and I've lost 8, but the slimming has not yet begun. Having such a huge following is great motivation and gives us a very good reason to keep pushing the miles past. The pictures are up for all to see, click on the thumbnails at the top. Keep checking the blog and we'll keep paddling! We'll see everyone in the end of July.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

R & R

As predicted Aaron and Jake had a huge day ending after 11:00 pm.  They traveled 57 miles to Guttenburg Iowa just below Lock 10.  I am going to pick them up in Dubuque today so they can have a much deserved rest.  We are going to launder all of their belongings and try to dry out the gear after a weeks worth of rain.  They will return to the river Sunday morning after a 2 1/2 day rest.  In the next few days we will try to upload some pictures.  Aaron and Jake will post their thoughts on the first 730 miles of the trip.
Posted by Aaron's dad

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Another wet day ends with 37 miles paddled to mile marker 672 in north eastern Iowa.   After canoeing through the rain all day Monday they slept (or tried to) through a severe storm Monday night, because of this they got a late start on Tuesday as they waited for the storm to abate.

Today Aaron and Jake will see the sun for the first time in over a week.  I would expect the guys to put a lot of miles behind them today as I'm sure the sun will "recharge their batteries".  At Prairie Du Chien they will meet where the Wisconsin River spills into the Mississippi River, this will be the second large river they will pass.  With each river merge the Mississippi will get larger and the current will pick up.  Within the next 2 weeks they will meet up with the Illinois, Missouri and Ohio Rivers. In fact, The Mississippi River drains 41% of the United States. 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces are included in the watershed.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wet and Miserable

Last night Aaron's text only said  "40 miles to marker 709 - wet and miserable".  Aaron and Jake will get a much needed and well deserved "day off" this Friday when I pick them up in Dubuque, IA.  In the mean time there are several milestones they should pass today.  1.  They will pass the half way point from the headwaters to Cairo, IL (the beginning of the numbering system for the Upper Mississippi River).  2.   They will pass Lake Onalaska near Lacrosse Wisconsin which is the widest free-flowing point in the Mississippi River at 4 miles wide.  3.  They will say good bye to Minnesota as they enter the Iowa/Wisconsin border.

If Aaron and Jake could understand how much they have inspired thousands of people it might give them some much needed motivation after such a wet and miserable day.

 Forecast for today - Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Monday, June 14, 2010

Placid Pepin

On the left is a picture of Jake as they take a short break in the middle of Lake Pepin.  This lake is 30 miles long, behind Jake you can see 1/2 of the lake that they had already crossed.  If you look real close I think you can see "Pepie" in the background.  With Pepie's blessings they safely navigated 40 miles through Lake Pepin to mile marker 749 just south of Alma Wisconsin.

Aaron texted "Lake Pepin is beautiful and surrounded by mountains.  Winds were light and from the north.  Our neighbors at the campground last night fed us bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast.  We got a shower and clean dishes."

Today they should pass Winona Minnesota and end somewhere north of LaCrosse Wisconsin.

Posted by Aaron's dad.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week 2 Statistics

556 = Total Miles Traveled
37 = Average Miles Per Day
1755 = Miles Left to the Gulf of Mexico
24% = Trip Completed
115 = Ahead of Projected Schedule
206 = Miles to go before a day off

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Long Live Pepie

43 more miles today ending at mile marker 789 just north of lake Pepin. 

"Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River that is backed up by the sediment of the Chippewa River’s delta. The lake is 40 square miles, with an average depth of 18 feet, and is the largest body of water on the river. Pepin stretches from Bay City, Wisconsin, in the north, down south to Reed’s Landing, Minnesota.
In 1890 the Sea Wing ferry capsized in a bad storm, killing 98 people. To this day the Sea Wing disaster is still one of the worst maritime calamities to occur on the Mississippi River.

Perhaps the local lake monster, Pepie, had something to do with the ferry accident. Pepie was first spotted on April 27, 1871, and is still seen today on rare occasions (or after a few shots of tequila).

An American Invention: What would summertime in the U.S. be without baseball, hot dogs, the Fourth of July, and water skiing? On June 28, 1922, eighteen year old, Ralph Samuelson started experimenting with a thought that if you could ski on snow, you could ski on water. After attempting the new sport with barrel staves and snow skis, Samuelson shaped lumber, leather straps, and a window sash to make the first pair of water skis. On July 2, while being towed by his brother, Samuelson discovered that leaning backwards with the ski tips pointing up was the best strategy, and an American aquatic favorite was born on Lake Pepin." (written by Aaron prior to departure).

Tomorrow, being a Sunday, Aaron and Jake may run into numerous recreational boaters, jet skies and water skiers.  Who knows, maybe one of these waters skier will be a direct descendant of Ralph Samuelson.

posted by Aaron's dad

"Dam" Locks

Severe storms in the morning delayed Aaron and Jake's start. The day ended with 33 miles traveled to an island at mile marker 832 in south St. Paul which puts them at 513 miles traveled.  Aaron and Jake went through three locks, including the Saint Anthony's Upper and Lower Falls.  After these two locks the numbering system begins with lock 1(actually the 3rd lock) which they also passed through yesterday. Once again, I don't understand the numbering system.   It seems to me that the first lock should be named #1 and not the St. Anthony Upper Lock. Oh well, another mystery.

In 20 miles, the barge traffic will increase after they pass the confluence of the St. Croix River which is actually larger than the Mississippi River at this point.  The St. Croix River marks the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Barge transport is an important means of shipping materiels in the United States.  In fact, in one gallon of fuel, 1 ton of cargo can be moved 60 miles by truck, 202 miles by rail, and 514 miles by barge.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Friday, June 11, 2010

Back to Civilization

Getting back into civilization has its advantages. Aaron and Jake were asked by a man standing on his dock where they were headed. It turns out this man had also canoed the entire Mississippi River. He invited them into his house as a severe storm crashed down. They enjoyed a dry shelter, pizza, beer and swapped stories with their new friend.

Aaron and Jake traveled 40 miles yesterday stopping at mile marker 865 just past the Coon Rapids Dam.  This was the last dam they will have to portage as they enter into the lock and dam system today. To achieve a 9-foot channel in the Upper Mississippi River, the construction of a system of navigation locks and dams was authorized in 1930. Dams are built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold back water and form deeper navigation "pools." Most pools in the United States are maintained at a constant minimum water depth of 9 feet for safe navigation. Dams allow river vessels to use a series of locks to "step" up or down the river from one water level to another.  The St. Paul District operates and maintains 13 locks and dams beginning at Upper St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis and ending at lock and dam 10 in Guttenberg, Iowa.

Today Aaron and Jake will go through downtown Minneapolis including the first few locks. 

The Minnesota DNR maps have all been navigated by Aaron and Jake, from this point forward I will link detailed maps provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources this stretch of "the Mississippi River from St. Cloud to Anoka was designated as a Minnesota Wild and Scenic River in 1973 ..."  This designation helps protect this beautiful stretch of the river.  Today Aaron and Jake traveled 46 miles to Oak Island Camp midway between St. Cloud and Anoka right in the heart of this protected area.

Tomorrow they will spend most of the day continuing on this beautiful stretch only to end the day on a stretch of river that is ..."silty and in places, contaminated with sewage and industrial chemicals" according to the Minnesota DNR.  Thursday and Friday will bring urban sprawl and industry as they head into the state capital leaving the pristine serenity of the Headwaters behind.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Good News - Bad News

On Tuesday Aaron and Jake traveled 41 miles to the Seven Island Campsite (on an island) at mile marker 951.  The river drops 6 1/2 feet for every river mile between Little Falls and St. Cloud, because of this huge gradient drop there are several dams that all must be portaged.  Yesterday Aaron and Jake portaged the Little Falls Dam where they stopped in the little town for lunch. After lunch they portaged the Blanchard Dam.  On the DNR map it describes the Blanchard Dam as; "Portage left 300 yards - rugged trail traverses, two railroad grades ... This is the largest hydroelectric Dam on the Upper Mississippi".  Imagine making three trips longer than the length of a football field over rugged terrain carrying 400 pounds of gear and a canoe.  Needless to say Aaron texted that this portage was extremely difficult. 

The good news is they only have two more days of portaging dams because they will begin the lock system near Minneapolis.  The bad news is they have three more dams to portage before they hit the first lock at mile marker 853.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Wall & The Log Jam

After a 51 mile day yesterday that ended at midnight the guys "hit a wall"  this afternoon and finished with 28 miles today.  They had to portage the canoe and gear in Brainerd which really took a lot out of them.  Even a small portage requires 3 trips, two for the 400 lbs. of gear and one for the canoe.  They are camping at Crow Wing State Park on the opposite bank from Camp Riley Military Reservation.

Question: What takes 150 lumberjacks, 5 teams of horses and one steam engine 6 months to break up?

Answer: The largest log jam in history. In 1894 a pile of logs a half-mile wide, 60 feet thick, and almost seven miles long was stuck in the Mississippi River near Little Falls, MN. The logs were being floated to the sawmills in Minneapolis and St. Paul to meet the demand of lumber for booming cities such as Chicago and New York. River divers were sent in to remove the key logs holding these jams together. These lumberjacks were some of the most highly skilled and the most respected in camp. It was not uncommon for as many as five or six loggers to die at once while trying to free the jams. Because of this specialized, dangerous job, the divers were among the most highly paid lumberjacks: seventy-five cents to a dollar a day wages. Some logs remained in place, gathering sediment and eventually becoming the islands that break the river’s path today.  (written by Aaron prior to departure)

Tomorrow Aaron and Jake will be passing through this area now referred to as the “Thousand Island” area of the river.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Betcha!

Aaron and Jake rolled out of their tents this morning just in time to see a black bear swim across the river and lumber up the bank no more than 30 yards from them.  After a quick change of underwear they were able to stop in the town of Aitkin for a warm lunch and then proceeded to put an amazing 51 more miles of river behind them. 

They are camping at Half Moon Campsite, mile marker 1020 a few miles upstream from Brainerd made famous in the movie Fargo "You betcha, and I suppose that is your accomplice in the wood chipper?".  Tomorrow they will pass Camp Riley Military Reservation which will  be on the west bank of the river for 16 miles.  The river  meanders much less from now on so the mileage they acheive on the river will be more similar to "real" miles.

Posted by Aaron's dad

38 more miles

I got a text at 9:42 pm last night and all it said was 38 miles.  I interpret this as "we got a late start today because we were enjoying the 5 star resort".  When I spoke to Aaron on Friday night he said both he and Jake are sore; backs, arms and hands are all hurting.  If you look at the detailed map you can see the campsites are further apart, Aaron did not include a campsite because according to my calculations they are at river mile 1071.  This puts them 10 miles upstream from the town of Aitkin.

Many people have been asking me what the numbers are on the detailed maps.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a system to keep track of the miles on the Mississippi River.  Miles are counted upstream from the Mississippi's confluence with the Ohio River, the southern tip of Illinois.  This makes the headwaters at Lake Itasca mile marker 1347 because it is that far from the Ohio River.  Aaron and Jake slept last night at mile marker 1071, you should be able to find that on the detailed map.  South of the Ohio River the numbering system starts over again counting upstream from mile "0" at the Gulf of Mexico.  Why there isn't one continuous numbering system is a mystery to me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

1 Shower

I spoke with Aaron on the phone last night after he and Jake traveled 44 miles to Sandy Lake Campsite.  Their goal was to get to the next campsite down river but being a Friday night the campsites were starting to fill up and they were running short on daylight.  Up to this point, the campsites they have been setting their tents on are river only access and usually only have a cleared area - the really nice ones might have a picnic table.  Last night at Sandy Lake they were treated with a campsite that not only included a shower but also a toilet!  I could feel the excitement in Aaron's voice as if they were staying at a 5 star resort. 

Aaron spoke of countless bald eagles, snapping turtles at every turn and a never ending meandering river.  In fact, he said that the river meanders so much that for them to travel 10 miles on the river they may actually be only traveling 5 miles "as the crow flies".

Week one statistics:

236 miles traveled (10% of the trip behind them)
2075 miles to the gulf
33.7 miles per day averaged
9 lakes traversed
300 feet in elevation descended
1/2 way to Minneapolis
$3450 Donated to breast cancer
200 hits on this website within the last 24 hours
1 shower for Aaron and Jake

Aaron and Jake will move from one map to the next sometime today so I have included both detailed maps to the right of this blog.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Friday, June 4, 2010

A drop of rain

On Tuesday, June 1st Aaron and Jake spent a 15 hour day on and off the water battling wind and rain as they crossed Lake Winnibigoshish.  It is said that a drop of rain takes approximately 90 days to travel the entire length of the Mississippi River.  Before this trip began Aaron and Jake estimated it would take 68 days to reach the Gulf of Mexico.  Now on June 3rd with just 6 days of paddling, including 45 miles today, they are 2 days ahead of the projected timeline which puts them at mile 0 on August 3rd.  Those drops of rain that tormented them on June 1st will dump into the gulf around September 1st and will meet their match when in turn they will be tormented by thousands of gallons of oil.

Aaron and Jake stopped at Swimming Bear Campsite last night.

Posted by Aaron's dad.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Smooth Sailing

Today Aaron and Jake put 34 miles of river behind them, stopping to camp at Leaning Willows campsite just outside Grand Rapids.  This section of river is a transition from the wetlands and forests of the headwaters to the lowland hardwood forest of Aitkin County.  Tomorrow they will need to portage around two manmade dams; one which controls the water level for Lake Pokegama and one that provides hydropower to the Blandin Paper Company.  Downstream from Grand Rapids the river shorelines become agricultural and then forested as it meanders through Aitkin County.

Posted by Aaron's dad

Rough Day

Aaron & Jake are a bit sore and tired after crossing Lake Winnibigoshish in rain and wind, finishing the day at 9:45p.m..  They only paddled 17 miles but wisely followed the shoreline and even stopped a few times to let the wind subside.  As a parent I am relieved and proud that they chose to respect the dangers of this large lake.  They spent the night at Lake Winnie Dam and should have a nice day ahead with a forecast of calm winds and temperatures in the high 60's.

Click on the detailed map to the right to see exactly where they are on the river.

Posted by aaron's dad

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2 big lakes down - 1 to go

On Monday night Aaron and Jake camped at Meadowland Campground after crossing Lake Bemidji and Cass Lake covering a total of 37 miles.  Today they have to navigate Lake Winnibigoshish which is by far the largest lake they will encounter.  At this point most of the details are sketchy as cell phone signals are far and few between.  The limited texts we have received describe bald eagles, storms and high winds.

Posted by Aaron's dad